The Top 7… Nintendo games not made by Nintendo

2. Zelda: Minish Cap / Oracle of Seasons and Ages – Capcom

How it came about: For most of the games on this list it seems that Nintendo will hand out just about any franchise of theirs so long as they don’t have any current plans for it. But Nintendo almost always has an internally developed core Mario or Zelda in the works, so those franchises are almost never shared. The only real exceptions to this rule were the trio of Legend of Zelda games Capcom and its subsidiary Flagship made for the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance. This show of trust on Nintendo’s part with their revered series paid off, as all three titles were very worthy additions to Legend of Zelda’s history.

Why they were great: The Oracle of Ages/Seasons began as remakes of the first Zelda and grew to be to similar but very distinctive adventures that launched on the same day. Ages focused more on LoZ’s puzzle mechanics, creating some of the most diabolical enigmas in series' history. Seasons, on the other hand, focused more on action and swordplay. Both understood what made Game Boy classic Link’s Awakening a perfect portable adventure, but Flagship added its own unique flavor to the plots of both games. And if you wanted the true ending, you had to beat both to get a password to unlock a final dungeon. It was one of the deepest, largest adventures Link and the aging Game Boy system ever saw.

Soon after, the development team was tasked with creating a new Zelda for the GBA, subtitled The Minish Cap. Taking on the colorful, cartoony graphical style of Wind Waker, the story focused on Link saving Princess Zelda and Hyrule with the help of the an enchanted, talking hat named Ezlo. Ezlo could shrink Link to miniature size, where Link could find the tiny Picori people to give him aid. Though not the biggest Zelda (no pun intended), the shrinking mechanic gave the whole world a hidden depth and unique charm. Unfortunately for Capcom, Nintendo decided to resume the development duties for handheld Zeldas with the launch of the DS, but this chapter in Zelda history will be well remembered by all fans of the elfish tyke.

1. Pokemon – Game Freak

How it came about: Game Freak had been around a long time developing games for the NES, SNES and Genesis, but had never had a real “hit.” They had worked on a couple Mario puzzle games, including Yoshi’s Cookie and Mario & Wario, and when company head Satoshi Tajiri came up with a game concept based around his childhood love for bug collecting, he took the idea to Nintendo and planned to release it on the Game Boy, which many saw as a dated console by that time. Game Freak hoped for a modest success, and what they got was a phenomenon.

Why it was great: “Gotta catch ‘em all” perfectly encapsulates what make Pokemon one of the most addicting games ever made. Starting with a very traditional JRPG base, Pokemon Red and Blue were built around the need to scour the world to capture all 151 adorable, wonderfully designed Pokemon and make them your own. The fact that several Pokemon were exclusive to one edition or the other meant you either had to buy both versions, or ideally, find a friend that had the other and trade with them. This kind of game was a perfect fit for the Game Boy, and made for a whole new social experience for gamers.

Above: A small taste of all the Pokemon spin-off games

Pokemon became more than a ludicrously popular franchise for Nintendo, one that doubled the Game Boy’s shelf life. It became a way of life, a business unto itself. Not only are there the core game, but tons of spin-offs, anime, and more merchandise than you can ever collect. Pikachu has gone on to be one of the most recognizable characters on Earth, and instead of resting on its laurels, Game Freak (which is now owned by Nintendo) works hard to make every new core Pokemon an expansion and as new an experience as can be, while still sticking to what makes the series great.

Special Bonus Entry!
-1. Zelda and Mario CDi abominations – Phillips

How this atrocity happened: Nintendo had worked with Sony for a long while on a CD-ROM add-on for the SNES, codenamed the PlayStation. But on the eve of making it official, Nintendo turned their back on Sony and teamed with the electronics giant’s rival Phillips. That lit the fire under Sony’s ass to make their own console, which would put Nintendo on the ropes for years. Meanwhile Nintendo, in a baffling move, loaned out their crown jewels, Mario and Zelda to unproven developer Phillips for its new system, the CDi. After seeing what we got, it’s surprising that Nintendo ever lent out its characters ever again.

This is how bad it sucked:

Above: Never forget

Above: NEVER

Aug 30, 2010

The complete history of Mario RPGs
We chronicle one humble plumber's random encounters with role-playing stardom


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Metroid's recurring trio of stars, dissected through ages


A brief history of colored game cartridges
One of these things is not like the other


Nintendo Top 7


  • Fireninjastar - October 16, 2013 1:23 p.m.

    SEGA made a better Nintendo game than Nintendo did. Huh. Maybe the F-Zero series should be sold off to them. Also, "PC master race", if you want Nintendo on PC, they're probably not going to trust anyone after the amazing masterpiece that was "Mario teaches typing".
  • GameManiac - September 3, 2010 3:31 a.m.

    I'm so proud to be a Pokemon fan. No wonder Nintendo is so protective of their franchises, after seeing that CD-I crap.
  • ViolentLee - September 1, 2010 10:59 p.m.

    Those Capcom Zelda games were awesome! I wouldn't say they were better than the Nintendo-made ones, but they definitely held their own -- which is really saying something in that franchise. I was a total completest with Minish Cap, getting every single item one could snag.
  • gazer89 - September 1, 2010 6:41 p.m.

    No Metroid Prime made by RETRO STUDIOS, arguably the greatest risk out of all of them to oversee the Metroid revamp, and it panned out better than all of them, bare Pokemon. As much as I love all of the games on this list, Prime's omission makes it irrelevant.
  • CaptCOMMANDO - September 1, 2010 4:42 a.m.

    I fucking played the shit out of Oracle of Seasons. My brother had Oracle of Ages. So spent so many hours just passing codes back and forth and figuring shit out. I honestly thought those games weren't recognized enough.
  • wrpen99 - September 1, 2010 4:17 a.m.

    i say you should have added Hal's Pokemon Snap as a different game
  • defiance0fchaos - September 1, 2010 3:51 a.m.

    I swear Miyamoto is smoking some pot or something. F Zero was awesome.
  • shyfonzie - September 1, 2010 2:41 a.m.

    Heck yeah Pokemanz
  • Nodoudt - August 31, 2010 6:36 p.m.

  • flare149 - August 31, 2010 4:25 p.m.

    Personally I think the Zelda games made by Capcom are better than the ones actually made by Nintendo, so I'm really glad they got included.
  • bnxcnvns - August 31, 2010 3:13 p.m.

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  • IThoughtIHadToShitistaButInsteadIGaveBirthToChrisAntista - August 31, 2010 2:36 p.m.

    This is how you do a "Top ___" list... take note other sites, *cough* NowGamer *cough*.
  • Theundead89 - August 31, 2010 1:41 p.m.

    Is not that i like wand of gamelon (in fact i have never played it, and every gaming post that says that it sucks just shows the cutscenes, so i dont have idead how you play it) but, it is unfair to sat that the game sucked based only in the cutscenes, at least show some crappy gameplay
  • kachigop - August 31, 2010 12:51 p.m.

    Bahahaha CDi blows. "I hope she makes lots of spaghetti!"
  • philipshaw - August 31, 2010 11:16 a.m.

    How was Retro studios not in the list, I would have them at number 1. Also how is Pokemon at number 1 if the developer is owned by Nintendo. It's like saying Naughty Dog are the best outside Sony studio but they are owned by Sony
  • Shinramen - August 31, 2010 7:29 a.m.

    Philips is spelled with one L, not two.
  • d3v - August 31, 2010 7:14 a.m.

    Prime should count since Nintendo also bought Rare.
  • Spybreak8 - August 31, 2010 7:11 a.m.

    Oh yeah I love me some Minish Cap. Only wish there was more replayability, played that and beat it like ages ago. Haven't played the F-Zero GX game because well I didn't want to own a purple box that collected duet. I collected a black box that collected dust, dust can't be stopped lol (I still played games on the ol' xbox).
  • elpurplemonkey - August 31, 2010 7:06 a.m.

    Great Top 7, brought back some nice memories.
  • jmcgrotty - August 31, 2010 6:42 a.m.

    The real reason Metroid: Prime isn't on the list: It actually kinda sucked. Metroid peaked with the very first game. And though you were a bit vague in your article, I would never consider Kirby a Nintendo game (the way you are calling nintendo games). It's a HAL game only.

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